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12 Plants for Lazy Gardeners

Low maintenance plants that are easy to grow

Not everyone has the time to tend to needy plants, but whether you’re a lazy gardener or just live a busy lifestyle, we’ve selected 12 plants just for you.

All 12 suggestions below are:

  • Stunningly beautiful.
  • Require very little pruning, feeding or tending to.
  • Largely pest and disease-free.
  • Will come back year after year without any special treatment.

Choose where you locate these plants carefully – grow them in a suitable spot and they will thrive with little effort on your part, put them in a bad location and they will require more care and attention:

1) Rozanne Hardy Geranium/Cranesbill:

This hardy geranium (not to be confused with an annual bedding geranium) provides ground cover up to 50cm high and if placed in an ideal location, requires very little attention but produces masses of small 2cm blue/purple flowers from late May or early June through to early October.

Key points:

  • Hardy to minus 20 so isn’t affected by frost.
  • Slug resistant and bug resistant.
  • Grow in a semi-shaded border and it will rarely require watering. Place in full sun and you’ll get more blooms but you’ll need to water once or twice a week during the summer.
  • Grow in pots and it will require watering up to twice a week.
  • Grows well without the need for fertilisation but a good handful of slow-release fertiliser in spring can help.
  • Only requires pruning once a year and can be cut with shears which saves time.

2) Hardy Fuschia:

You really can’t go wrong with fuschias, and the hardy variety copes well with winter weather in most parts of the UK and comes back year after year.

Even after a hard frost with the top growth died back, new growth will appear below ground.

Unlike their annual bedding cousins, hardy fuschias have a sturdy upright habit with arching stems holding dangling flowers.

Key points:

  • Slug and bug resistant.
  • Requires minimal fertiliser; once or twice a year with a slow-release product is fine.
  • Grow in semi-shade, and it will require watering only when it’s scorching outside. Grow in full sun or a small container, and it will typically require watering once a week.
  • Prune once a year from early winter to early spring.
  • Locate in a sheltered spot away from strong winds.
  • Grows slowly and remains compact.

3) Hydrangea Paniculata:

If you want to make a statement in your garden, then hydrangea paniculata is for you.

The huge blooms on this popular shrub are unmistakable. Expect conical panicles from late summer into autumn.

This entry into our list is a huge space filler as some varieties reach up to 4 metres in height, so make sure you check the label and select a more compact variant if space in your yard is limited.

Unlike many other hydrangeas, the paniculata is more hardy (down to US zone 3/minus 30C) and is forgiving of pruning mishaps that prevent many other hydrangeas from blooming.

As with all hydrangeas, slugs aren’t interested, and very few other pests are of concern.

The paniculata also copes with direct sunlight and dry soil better than most other hydrangeas.

Key points:

  • Produces huge blooms, larger than on any other hydrangea.
  • Slug resistant and most other pests aren’t interested either.
  • Will still flower after pruning mishaps or aggressive pruning (unlike many other hydrangeas).
  • It can be grown in full sun or partial shade.
  • It prefers moist soil but copes with drier conditions better than any other non-climbing hydrangea.
  • Only needs fertiliser once or twice a year and once-yearly pruning back to a framework of stems.
  • It needs more frequent watering if grown in a pot. However, place this hydrangea in a semi-shaded border, and it will only require watering during very hot spells.

4) Coneflowers:

Coneflowers are so ridiculously easy to grow that you can literally toss seeds onto the soil, and you are guaranteed to see plants grow within a few weeks.

Daisy-like petals grow on top of 2-4 foot long stems surrounded by bushy leaves and last from June into September.

Choose from yellow, white or the classic purple coneflowers; these perennials come back year after year and are so versatile they go well with almost any other plant making them the perfect companion plant.

Key points:

  • Could flower in the first year but from year two is when they produce an abundance of blooms.
  • No need for fertiliser, and they’re drought tolerant.
  • Grow in full sun.
  • Slugs prefer other plants, so only go for coneflower leaves as a last resort.
  • Disease resistant and bug damage is rarely enough to kill the plant.
  • Deadheading is optional; cut off the faded blooms to encourage more flowers or leave them to set seed, and the coneflowers will spread.

5) Lavender:

Lavender is another shrub that’s easy to maintain and requires very little attention.

If you live in a cooler area of the UK with colder winters, choose English lavender. For those of you in warmer southern zones, try French lavender which isn’t as hardy but produces unusual and beautiful bracts from spring into early summer.

Lavenders rarely require watering, never need fertiliser and aren’t affected by slugs or other pests.

They prefer lots of sunlight and thrive in poor quality soil, and they recover quickly from light pruning.

Key points:

  • Locate in a sunny spot with free-draining soil.
  • Resists bugs and slugs who aren’t interested in this shrub.
  • Prune once a year; you can even use shears to save time.
  • There’s no need to water established lavenders, and they never need fertiliser which makes them grow woody and sparse.
  • They can be grown in pots but will require occasional watering, esp if the pot is small.

Read more: Our guide to growing French Lavender.

6) Alliums:

Alliums are the ultimate spring-flowering bulb and are super easy to grow as they start to bloom in the rainy season and rarely require water or fertiliser.

Being part of the onion family, very few pests eat them and slugs and bugs ignore them entirely.

Unlike many other types of bulbs, they always come back year after year, and you don’t need to lift them either; just plant them and forget them – this makes them perfect for lazy or busy gardeners.

Key points:

  • Come back year after year (unlike tulips).
  • Look exquisite if located amongst ornamental grass.
  • Popular with garden designers, and helps creates a modern feel to any garden.
  • Slug, bug and disease resistant.
  • No need to fertilise and rarely require watering due to the time of year they grow.
  • Foliage turns yellow quickly, so hide them amongst plants that produce lots of low-level green foliage for cover.

Read more: How to grow perfect alliums.

7) Ornamental Grasses:

There are hundreds of varieties of ornamental grasses to choose from, with red, blue and yellows coloured plants the most popular.

Also, choose from evergreen or deciduous, with the evergreen variety requiring very little, if any, yearly pruning.

Ornamental grasses all have one thing in common; they are easy to grow and require only minimal care and maintenance.

Use these grasses to add movement to any garden; they sway in the wind and complement more rigid plants.

Key points:

  • Almost entirely pest and disease resistant – rust can be prevented by spacing grasses correctly, while rabbits are just as likely to eat them as any other type of grass.
  • No need to water or fertilise.
  • Choose from cold or warm-season grasses; both put on growth at different times of the year.
  • Can be used to fill space and make a statement.

8) Weigela:

Another shrub that performs well in average soil and requires no special care or treatment is weigela.

Choose from taller varieties to fill space or as background in a large border, or pick one of the many compact versions.

Weigela produces small showy tubular flowers that are a favourite of bees, from May to July.

The leaves are green, and of medium to small size and as with all the plants on our list, slugs and bugs stay away from weigela, and while it can benefit from a yearly prune after flowering in the summer, it can be left unpruned for several years and will still bloom.

Key points:

  • Small clusters of tubular flowers add plenty of colour without making a huge statement or distracting attention from large blooms on other plants.
  • Slug and bug resistant.
  • Very few diseases affect this shrub.
  • No special watering or fertiliser requirements, although it can benefit from a yearly feed.
  • Prune to shape after flowering or leave it until next year. If you forget to prune, it will still perform well and will still bloom next year.

9) Oakleaf Hydrangea:

The second hydrangea on our list is the oakleaf variety, a shrub known for its leaves as much as its impressive flowers.

While not as hardy as the paniculata (US zone 6b versus zone 8), this hydrangea also produces showy panicles of flowers and can grow even taller and wider, with some varieties growing up to 7 metres.

Grow in a flowerbed, and you won’t need to provide much extra water except on the hottest of days, while potted oakleaf hydrangeas require more watering during the summer.

Key points:

  • Beautiful oakleaf-like leaves.
  • Long panicles of showy flowers.
  • Slug and generally bug resistant.
  • Apply slow-release fertiliser once or twice a year and keep an eye on soil moisture during dry spells.
  • Pruning is easy; just wait until spring when you’ll see buds forming, leave some of these on the plant as they will produce bloom for this year.

10) Catmint:

Catmint is a popular alternative to lavender and is just as easy to grow and maintain.

Locate in a sunny border or raised bed with drier, free-draining soil.

Catmint is as tolerant as lavender and doesn’t require excessive watering or fertiliser, and is, by and large, pest-free too.

Key points:

  • Very low maintenance once established in a border.
  • It can be grown in pots but may require more frequent watering.
  • Avoid damp, wet soils and shaded parts of the garden.
  • It only needs pruning once a year; just cut off stems as the blooms start to fade, and new growth will appear from the base.

11) Clumping Bamboo:

A bamboo listed in a guide to plants for lazy gardeners? Have we gone crazy?

While many species of bamboo can be invasive and difficult to control, clumping bamboo only spreads horizontally by 6-12 inches per year and is much easier to maintain compared to running bamboo.

While young bamboo specimens are thirsty plants, they require much less maintenance and care once established.

With over 1400 types of bamboo to choose from, you have plenty of choices. Go for a compact, clumping variety, and you won’t need to worry about it spreading too far.

Key points:

  • Ideal for screening.
  • It can make for a delightful feature.
  • Generally pest free.
  • Slug resistant.
  • It can be grown in pots.

12) Snowball Viburnum:

Have we saved the best for last?

I certainly think so…

If you like the large blooms found in hydrangea paniculata and aborescens, you’ll surely fall in love with the snowball blooms on this viburnum and the two species have very similar maintenance requirements too with viburnum only slightly more tolerant of dry soil conditions.

Key points:

  • Performs best in dappled or part shade.
  • Huge, distinctive snowball blooms.
  • Can grow up to 4 metres.
  • Alternative to hydrangea aborescens.
  • Can be pruned aggressively and will still bloom.
  • Generally disease-free.
  • Slug resistant but may attract aphids, although these will rarely affect established plants.

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This guide to the best plants for lazy gardeners was created by the team at DIY Gardening

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Hannah Miller
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